Biology is the study of life and its component parts, from molecules to cells to ecosystems. It encompasses the entire biosphere that is the Earth. The current state of biological knowledge has taken centuries to accumulate, and with modern molecular and other analytical techniques, our understanding of biological processes is growing rapidly. The study of biology encompasses a broad spectrum of careers. These include researchers in the laboratory and field seeking to understand how molecules, cells, organisms, and groups of organisms work; those responsible for the health of all organisms, including humans; those interested in conservation of life and the environment; as well as those who educate others. Each plays a vital role and each needs to have a broad understanding of historical and current biology and modern techniques. The first two years of the biological sciences curriculum provide a solid basis for an understanding of life from the micro to the macro level, as well as in-depth introductions to three unifying topics: cell biology, genetics, and evolution. Specialized curricula at the upper-level include courses designed to prepare students for specific careers, graduate schools, and professional schools. Regardless of the special curricular track chosen, the student will graduate with a solid foundation in biological sciences as well as a thorough preparation for biological careers and advanced education.
The common requirements for the Bachelor of Science with a major in biological sciences are as follows:
- A minimum of 54 quarter hours earned in biological science (BIOS) coursework. This may require several BIOS electives in addition to the courses listed under each specialized track. Additional courses may include 109 or any BIOS course at the 300 or 400 level (except 392).
- At least three upper-level 300-400 level courses in biological sciences must have a laboratory component. (L) indicates BIOS laboratory course or a BIOS course with a laboratory component.
- Core science requirements include the following courses, but note that some programs may have exceptions or require additional courses. See the specific major for the required courses.
- BIOS 170, 171, 172, 173 Intro to Zoology
- BIOS 325 Genetics
- BIOS 320 Cell Biology
- BIOS 330 Principles of Evolution
- CHEM 151, 152, 153 Fundamentals Chem
- CHEM 301-302 or 305-306-307 Organic Chemistry
- PSY 221 Statistics
- MATH 266A, 266B Calculus w/App. Biology
- PHYS 201-202-203 or 251-252-253 Physics
If you plan to attend graduate school, it is strongly recommended that you take BIOS 493 or BIOS 494H (Undergraduate Research) in your junior and/or senior year. See the biological sciences Web page for opportunities in undergraduate research.
There are two curricular tracks leading to a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in biological sciences: one with a human health emphasis and one in environmental biology. Both provide a sound science background, but with far greater concentration in the social sciences than the Bachelor of Science tracks. This interdisciplinary emphasis of the B.A. gives students the flexibility to prepare for a wide range of higher education and career opportunities in allied health, social service, and environmental fields.
Consult your DARS and your academic advisor when choosing courses to fulfill university and college requirements.
Unless otherwise indicated, BIOS departmental courses may be retaken only once.
Honors Program in Biology
Outstanding students who are not part of the Honors Tutorial College may graduate with Departmental Honors. These students may be in any BIOS area of specialization (major code). Departmental Honors requires that a student:
- Graduate with an overall g.p.a of at least 3.5, i.e. cum laude.
- Complete a senior honors research thesis with one of the faculty in the Department (this requires registering for BIOS 494H and 495H).
Graduation with Departmental Honors is a special acheivement that offers:
- Special recognition at graduation and on the degree certificate.
- In-depth hands-on research experience in the laboratory of a faculty member.
- Direct and close interaction with a faculty member over the course of an entire year.